Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood received a glowing review from Pat Bean at Story Circle Book Reviews. Here’s the first paragraph:
“If you’re looking for a book about sisters that’s all gushy and sweet, you probably won’t like Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood. While some stories in this anthology of prose and poetry will make you shed happy tears with their perfect endings, other stories with Cinderella/stepsister twists will pluck your heartstrings in an off-tune howl.”
Read the full review at http://www.storycirclebookreviews.org/reviews/sistersbornfound.shtml
Hurrah for all who contributed to this fine collection!
SISTERS BORN, SISTERS FOUND got off to a strong start in 2015 with launch parties in January at Gaia's Garden in Santa Rosa and Book Passage in Corte Madera. That was followed by a jam-packed reading at Folio Books in San Francisco and a blog hop featuring six anthology authors. Here's more of what's in store for Sisters Born, Sisters Found this year:
Saturday, March 7, 9 to 10 a.m.: Sisters Born, Sisters Found will be featured on KPFA's Morning Talkies show. The program begins at 9 with news tidbits. Then host Kris Welch will interview anthology contributor Lee Jenkins and me. The program will end with Kris reading selections from the book. KPFA is at 94.1 FM. The show can also be accessed online at http://www.kpfa.org/saturday-morning-talkies (but not before it airs).
Saturday, March 28, 1 to 3 p.m.: I (Laura McHale Holland) will be at Copperfield's in Petaluma doing a "Meet and Greet" which involves signing books at a table set up for that purpose and talking with people, but it doesn't include reading from the book. I'll ask a couple of other contributing writers to join me.
Saturday, April 25, 1 to 4 p.m., Anthology contributor and former Sonoma County poet laureat Gwynn O'Gara and I will lead a workshop at The Sitting Room at 2025 Curtis Drive in Penngrove. We'll read from the anthology and talk about writing with specific topics in mind. Attendees will have time to write about sisterhood and then share their writing if they want to. $25 fee includes a copy of the book.
Monday, May 11, 7 to 8:30 p.m., This date is tentative. Several authors will read their contributions to the anthology at Folio Books. We held a highly successful reading here on Feb. 9, and have been asked to return. If this doesn't happen on the 11th it will happen as soon as possible after that.
Sunday, July 12, 2 to 5 p.m., The book will be one of several featured at the Redwood Writers annual Author Launch Party at the Flamingo Hotel, 2777 4th Street, Santa Rosa.
Saturday, Oct. 3, (location and time to come) I'll be the key speaker at Gather the Women. The group has asked me to share wisdom from the anthology, a delicious assignment.
We have a Sisters Born, Sisters Found group on Facebook. It's open to the public so anyone interested in the book or in sisterhood is welcome. https://www.facebook.com/groups/793077770768846/
I'm also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/laura.mchale.holland and am good about updating info there about goings on with the book.
People can also sign up for my newsletter at lauramchaleholland.com. That's where I blog, although I've been lax about that lately.
In the works
I've just begun thinking about how to do a podcast of as many authors as possible readings their contributions to the anthology during March for National Women's History Month.
Laura McHale Holland
Performing Artists Bring Sister Stories to Life
Bay Area actors and storytellers gather Nov. 12 at the Redwood Café to perform selected works on sisterhood from new anthology by writers from across the globe
ROHNERT PARK, Calif., Oct. 27, 2014 — When author and editor Laura McHale Holland put out a call for creative writing about sisters one year ago, she didn’t expect word to travel far beyond her immediate circle of friends. However, the theme struck a chord. She soon received memoirs, poems, essays and short stories from every continent except Antarctica, and the slim volume she had envisioned grew into a full-length book.
“A bigger book meant increased costs, so I raised funds through Pubslush, a crowdfunding platform devoted to literary projects,” Holland said. “When I approached Michael McCullaugh, co-owner of the Redwood Café, about the campaign, he didn’t just donate; he suggested I do an event with Sound Kitchen, a local band that often does joint shows with other artists. I accepted the offer even though sharing the bill with a band meant I’d have to devise something more energetic than a typical literary reading. I’m thrilled that the prospect of this event, just like the book itself, was met with enthusiasm, and we have a spellbinding evening planned.”
The Redwood Café is at 8240 Old Redwood Hwy. in downtown Cotati. Several of the 75 authors who contributed to the anthology Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood will be at the Redwood early for dinner and to visit with any community members interested in their work. Petaluma Readers Theater co-founders Maureen Studer and Jennifer March and director/actress Leslie Scatchard will kick off the free entertainment at 7:15 p.m. with dramatic interpretations of three memoirs from the book. Local band Sound Kitchen will do a set of eclectic, energizing music. Then professional storytellers John Boe and Ruth Stotter, who contributed stories to the anthology, will tell their riveting tales. Afterward, Sound Kitchen will take the stage again.
Laura McHale Holland published the award-winning childhood memoir Reversible Skirt in 2011 and the flash fiction collection The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song in 2013. Sisters Born, Sisters Found will launch officially in January and can be pre-ordered via email to email@example.com. For more information about this event and book, please visit https://wordforest.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Editor:
Laura McHale Holland is the editor of Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood. Her prior publications include the flash fiction collection, The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song, and the award winning memoir, Reversible Skirt. Her writing has appeared in print and online in community newspapers, business periodicals and literary anthologies. Her play Are You Ready? was produced by Sixth Street Playhouse and Redwood Writers in 2014 and shortlisted for the Short+Sweet Sydney 2015 international festival. For more info, please visit http://lauramchaleholland.com.
About the Book:
Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood reveals the core of female hearts, divulges secrets, and captures poignant, compelling, complex relationships. This vibrant collection of work from across the globe isn’t only about blood sisters or women who like each other. Sisters can bond over movie nights. Stuff snails down each other’s throats. Steal each other’s clothes—and lovers. Scrounge for food together, tell stories together, work magic together—even kill together. Seventy-five gifted writers explore all of this and more is in the memoirs, short stories, essays and poems that form Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
Preorder via email at email@example.com
Review Copies and Media Interviews:
For a review copy of Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood or an interview with Laura McHale Holland, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 707-792-2409. If you would like to receive this information as a Word document, please let us know.
About the artists performing Nov. 12 at the Redwood Café:
John Boe recently retired from UC Davis, where he taught Shakespeare, Fairy Tales, Storytelling, Children’s Literature, and various writing courses. He has won teaching prizes from UC Davis and Phi Beta Kappa and first prize in the H. R. Roberts Literary Awards, Informal Essay Category. He has published widely, including Life Itself: Messiness is Next to Goddessness and Other Essays. He is also a professional storyteller. “The Face of the Following Eyes” first existed as a performance piece.
Jennifer March is the founder of Petaluma Readers Theatre. She started her acting career doing Oral Interpretation and it is still her favorite method of performance. More about PRT at www.petalumareaderstheatre.com.
Leslie Scatchard has been performing in one way or another for most of her life. Lately she has been focusing on storytelling for grown-ups, with her second one-woman show due out this spring. Leslie also directs the Petaluma Kids’ Theatre at her performance space, Clear Heart, in Petaluma.
In addition to creating the Dominican University Certificate-in-Storytelling program, Ruth Stotter has performed and conducted storytelling workshops on five continents, authored and contributed to numerous books about storytelling and folklore, and for six years, produced The Oral Tradition—a storytelling radio show on KUSF-FM. In 2011, Ruth received the Oracle Life Time Achievement Award from the National Storytelling Network. She is also the author of Little Acorns: An Introduction to Marin County Plant-Lore. The youngest of three sisters, Ruth is currently a competitive croquet player and kayaker.
What started as a teenage crush on the theatre has turned in to a life long love affair for Maureen Studer; her work in the theatre spans over 40 years—acting, directing, teaching and writing. She is a co-founder of Petaluma Readers Theatre and getting ready to publish her first romance novel, Show Fever.
To see Sound Kitchen jamming at the Redwood, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFuUCWVDnto. In addition to jazz, the band does blues, soul, Latin and funk music.
We've got two events coming up in November for Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood.
Friday, November 7, 2014—7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Five authors featured in the forthcoming anthology Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood will read at Sisters Consignment Couture, 117 W. Napa St., Sonoma. Featured readers are Skye Blaine, P.H. Garrett, Laura McHale Holland, Marie Judson-Rosier and Pamela Taeuffer. A drawing for a $25 gift card will take place at intermission, and all attendees will receive a 20 percent discount on purchases that evening. An open mic will follow for community members to share writing on sisterhood. Those who read during the open mic will receive a free ebook of the anthology when it comes out.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014—6:30 p.m. till the band stops playing
Pre-release celebration for the anthology Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood at the Redwood Cafe, 8240 Old Redwood Hwy., Cotati. Anthology editor Laura McHale Holland, book designer Kathy McHale, and several authors who contributed work to the anthology will arrive by 6:30 to mingle over dinner with folks interested in the book. Petaluma Readers Theater co-founders Maureen Studer and Jennifer March and director/actress Leslie Scatchard will kick off the free entertainment at 7:15 with dramatic interpretations of three short memoirs from the book. Local band Sound Kitchen will do a set of eclectic, energizing music. Then professional storytellers John Boe and Ruth Stotter, who contributed stories to the anthology, will tell riveting tales. Afterward, Sound Kitchen will take the stage again.
A terrific pre-publication review came in for Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood:
Laura McHale Holland has edited this anthology of poems, memoirs, stories and essays and dedicates it ‘To all women throughout the world whose birth families gave them siblings, to those who became sisters through other kinds of bonds, and to all the sisters and brothers who love them.’
As she states in her introduction, ‘I embarked upon this anthology project to honor my sisters, Kathy and Mary Ruth, as well as to capture the power of readings I have conducted in recent years at SISTERS Consignment Couture in Sonoma, California. The shop is a cozy place where local authors have shared memoir, essay, fiction and poetry by and about sisters of all types. The readings have been heartfelt, memorable and multifaceted, ranging from intense and painful to lighthearted and celebratory.’ Her idea was so favored and touched so many empathetic eyes and ears that after posting the concept on the social media she was inundated with entries from around the world who were part of the sister journey. ‘I considered several possible ways to organize the varied contents of this book but ultimately did not attempt to place them into categorized groups. But given the size of this book, I divided the work into seven sections to suggest places where readers might want to pause. While grouping the work, I strove to create a reading experience that emulates what I experienced when reading submissions as they came to my inbox. I never knew where the next writer would take me, what aspect of the sister journey she or he would reveal, or how the work would affect me. I believe whether you read the book cover to cover or skip around, you will find numerous insights and fresh perspectives on sisterhood. I certainly have.’
Reading this collection of works by women about that special bond women can form between each other, whether that connection is genetic or simply the proximity of neighborly, is not only illuminating: it is revelatory. Perhaps something men will never understand, really, truthfully. Being male crowds out such sensitive bonding, unless during combat on the battlefield.
What happens in this exquisite array of the spectrum of ‘sisterhood’ is discovery of new poets and writers who deserve a louder voice, a chance to talk about women in ways too often usurped by whispering – those myriad details of owning homogametic XX chromosomes that attracts yet deeply, philosophically distances the XY gender. These are songs of linking, love, need, compassion, yearning for some semblance of sameness that make two women sisters.
A difficult task, but some excerpted examples follow:
Scrambled Eggshells – Jean Wong ‘As soon as Nancy appeared at the door of our eighth grade classroom, even I, with my home haircut, near-sighted squint and ill-fitting skirt, could see that she stuck out. Her hair was a tangle of kinky, sandy-blonde curls. She grimaced, exposing her big teeth as overly enthusiastic greetings gushed forth. Wearing dated clothes and straw shoes with high heels, she carried a matching purse. No one ever brought a purse to school. She was like a puppy wagging its tail among crocodiles. Her overtures were met with blank stares and titters. She was quickly relegated to our group of outcasts who suffered not so much from teasing, but the cruelty of being ignored.’….“Check this scene out!” we screamed. And this became our mantra. For years to come, we peered into mirrors, in bathrooms, department stores, plush hotel lobbies. At birthdays, graduations and every other conceivable situation, arms around each other, we posed. Check this scene out. Check out that we’re hurting, ridiculous, high, miserable. Check out that we’re alive and going through life together. Check out that we’re friends.’
Unlikely Sisters -Karen Levy –‘So where do our loyalties lie? I am an Israeli-American, a former member of the Israeli Defense Force and as anxious about the fate of my native country as I was when I lived there. Eman is a Muslim woman living in Israel, a woman whose neighbors were among those who had torched the nurses’ station yelling “Death to Jews” on that sad day in 1976. But, as Eman emphasized during our first phone call, we are both children of Israel, and I know in my heart that it’s not so easy to hate someone with whom you’ve giggled in front of a bathroom mirror. We are unlikely sisters.’
The Truth of It – Dipika Kohli – ‘Even though Paige is in another state now, and I'm in Asia, and we don't talk or message each other, I'm still very grateful to her. She was there for me, in a way no one could dare to be, right then. At that darkening-sky moment in our shared carpool of life, she was summer light. I'll never forget how much that mattered, how much strength she imparted to me to trust myself to do the thing I didn't want to do, but knew I would. I learned just how vulnerable a doctor could be when she wasn't in a pressed white coat in a hospital, wasn't on stage, wasn't even trying to be, but was totally honest and open. For all my life I will remember the shape, color and scent of that very essence of how it felt just then to have, for an afternoon's instant, one very real, very true friend.’
Sister Act -Vicki Batman – ‘To this day, I plop my family on the couch with treats and drinks, and we turn on White Christmas. I sing all the tunes. When the signature song ends, contentment swells inside me. I fight back tears. My holidays are perfect. Life is perfect. I have everything.
Funny, my men refuse to sing with me. Maybe some things are best shared with sisters.’
Echoes from the Heart – Mary J. Kohut – ‘My first recollection of life was in the Tennessee Children’s Home in Nashville. I remember my little sister, but the home wouldn’t admit she was my sister; they said she was just a little girl I became attached to. I must have been two-and-a-half or three years old at this time.’
We Have Today – Paige Strickland – ‘That’s OK, though. We have today, and even if we live far apart, or our work and kids’ schedules steal our time, we do have each other. Our kids have cousins. We don’t blame anyone for a past we’ll never share. We embrace the present and treasure our chances to cheer at kids’ games and graduations, dance at weddings, rejoice at births, mourn when we need to mourn, work when we need to work, and laugh every chance we get.’
Jen-Jen – Jesse Kimmel Freeman – ‘I lost you, my big sister, in 2002. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel guilt over your death. It doesn’t matter that I had nothing to do with it, that I was just a teen, or that I couldn’t have done anything to stop it. That is one of the curses of surviving a loved one’s suicide. I am left with the guilt and the lingering what-ifs. I am left wishing everyone would take a moment for those in their lives who are suffering—you know, say hello, smile, offer a candy bar, show the generosity you always possessed. One small gesture could make all the difference. You were my world even if you didn’t realize it. And you’ll forever live in my heart. Goodbye, Jen-Jen.’
To attempt to taste this panoply of works by 85 submissions is nearly impossible: each reader will find particular passages that speak more strongly to memories, minds, souls, and experiences. For women this is not simply an anthology: this is the definition of ‘sister’. For men it is a Diogenes lantern as a guide to understand or appreciate that elusive bond .
Poet, War Songs
Critic, Literary Aficionado
Art Historian, The Art of Man and Vitruvian Lens
Writer for art museum catalogues, PoetsArtists
Here’s a big shout out to the people who donated $15 or more to the recent Pubslush crowdfunding campaign for Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood. The campaign raised $2,085 in its 30-day run! Thanks to all of these beautiful souls for their generosity:
Laurelai Barton and Tam Nguyen, The Mac Advantage
Skye Blaine and Boudewijn Boom
Ruth Kessler Dallas
Patty Purpur de Vries
P. H. Garrett
Mary Ruth Gross
Michael McCullaugh and Mustaph Jamal, the Redwood Café
Ana Manwaring, JAM Manuscript Consulting
Jeanne Miller, JAM Manuscript Consulting
Rita Marie Powell
Julie Fadda Powers
Linda and Harry Reid
Sally Smith, the Noe Valley Voice
Marc Velez, Cotati Community Acupuncture
Courtney Wagle, Damia Salon
Dan Watkins, Verbworks
Several other contributors wish to remain anonymous. Folks who chipped in smaller amounts are very much appreciated, too!